Xenite Memorial | Remembering Kevin Smith | Contact MaryD
"Don't cry because it's over.
Smile because it happened."
~ Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, 1904-1991
If you have some comment, poem, or just some memories you want to share send them to
P.D. was always organized and prepared for "what ifs" and death was no exception. Prior to having her brain tumor surgery last August, P.D. ensured her house was in order. She wrote a message we were to share with her virtual family should she not survive the surgery. We feel it appropriate to share the message now with each of you. Priscilla and I keep saying thank you and it seems so inadequate. Know that it comes from our hearts and you will forever be P.D.'s heroes.
Sincerely, Jeremy and Priscilla Lamberth
In My Life
I've seen hatred and fear.
Prejudice and anger hurled at those I loved caused heartache and pain.
The one that held my heart was the victim of abuse and molestation.
I've known hunger.
I've known illness
I've known death.
I've known anger.
In my life
I found love and courage.
I discovered some things are worth the price of marching to a different drummer.
Gentleness and kindness, giving and caring made my world a better place and
healed wounds long since past.
I've known love.
I've known friendship.
I've known laughter. I danced.
I've seen the glory of new birth and new awakenings.
I've been blessed with living each day.
I've known joy.
In my life
I've traveled many roads and discovered things along the way.
I found despite everything life hurls at you, there's always hope.
I've found everyone wants a new day filled with peace and love and happiness.
I've learned to balance the price you pay with the prize you win in living each day.
I learned there are no barriers except the ones we place on our hearts and spirits.
I've learned a little faith in yourself, humanity and the human spirit can make impossible things plausible.
I've known love.
I've known friendship.
In my life
I learned how a heart breaks and dreams shatter.
I learned what it's like to be alone.
I learned what it's like to open your heart, open yourself to vanquish the loneliness.
I learned how you can go on, face a new road, and start the journey again.
I've learned that change confounds and delights and makes the journey full of surprises.
I've known love.
I've known friendship
In my life
I discovered that we never make the journey alone, no matter how hard
we try to push others away, there's always some thing or some one we meet along the way.
I've learned that the greatest thing any one can do is give themselves.
I've learned you have to live your life and follow your heart and your dreams.
I've learned that you can always get up again as long as you see the destination and not the ruts in the road.
I've known love.
I've known friendship
In my life My Evie found a
One filled with love and laughter and fun.
She found the internet and friends galore.
My heart stopped when her life was snatched away and darkness came crashing round.
I saw the abyss and I saw a way around it by taking people's hand and letting them in again.
I found friendship. I found laughter. I found joy. I found people who cared.
I found people who made me care. I found people who made me think.
I found the most precious gift is giving yourself and accepting and
cherishing the gift of friendship others give you.
I discovered the virtual family I came to know and love through Evie
came to know and love me.
I found love.
I found friendship.
I found acceptance.
In my life
Another journey has begun. One where I must go alone.
Death called and yet another new path needs discovering.
I finished the journey here on earth and start the next one wherever that may lead.
I know I won't be alone.
I know each of you will be with me in thought and spirit.
I knew love.
I knew friendship.
I knew what it was like to be part of a whole, part of humanity,
part of someone else's heart and dreams.
In your lives
May you know love.
May you know friendship.
May you know wonder and joy.
May your journey be filled with remarkable people,
remarkable beauty, and remarkable friends, just as mine was.
May you see the ocean, smell the flowers, laugh, dance,
make sand castles and keep the child inside.
May you celebrate each day and live each moment.
May you be. Just be.
It's time to start down the
Thank you for touching my heart and touching my spirit.
Below are P.D's & Jeremy's wishes for
those of you who
want to remember her in a more tangible way.
Before P.D.'s initial surgery in August we discussed "what if's" and her personal wishes. Her greatest desire was for people to give themselves in little ways that make a difference.
P.D. and my Mom believed strongly in volunteerism. In lieu of flowers or cards, if people could find time to give of themselves, P.D.'s memory would be honored. Areas she expressed particular interest in were the library reading programs, mentoring, adopt a grandparent program, meals on wheels, local clothing and food drives, round robin calling circles where you spend an hour a week calling house bound people, cleaning up a beach, a park, or helping a neighbor.
I recognize this is not a traditional request and many people will not be able to comply. A.B.T.A. is a fine organization and provides a great deal of educational, practical and counseling support. It is a worthwhile cause.
I'm sure it would be fine with P.D. if people wanted to donate to that or other Brain Tumor organizations. I also know she cared about children. Causes that support the health and well being of children nationally or world wide would garner a smile. As for flowers or cards. Donating themselves or their money to a worthy cause is preferred. If someone still wants to send a card, it can be addressed to the Folsom PO Box. It's good through the end of the year and we will put a mail forward request on it.
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
P.D. Wonder succeeded more than most of us ever dream and hope to achieve. She has left behind a whole world of people whose lives are better because she touched us, encouraged us, and served as a beacon for us. I grieve her passing, for no longer will we have herlaughter to lighten our lives. I bless the kindness of the gods, for she has passed on to whatever is next in quiet peace, rather than more pain. I honor her memory in my heart, for the lessons she taught will stay with me for the rest of my life.
This was written a few weeks after Evie's death: From:
I wanted to share a special moment with you. I do so primarily because it is such a wonderful commentary on today's children and gives me great hope for the future.
Normally, I spend my Sunday afternoons as a volunteer reader for our reading center. Two hours I would read things like Dr. Seuss to the 4 - 6 year olds. Then, the next two hours would be spent with the 7 - 9 year olds. It's fun and enlightening. I highly recommend it to anyone. Most local libraries sponsor reading circles.
Anyway, since Evie's death, I have been bypassing the reading circles. Instead, I go to her grave and fill her in on what's been happening, change the flowers, listen to the bird song, that kind of thing. It helps me center and feel connected.
The librarian, a long time friend of both Evie and I surprised me yesterday. She knocked on my door and asked if I would mind some company on my journey to the cemetery. She said she had some flowers she wanted to put on the grave. Not really knowing what to say or how to get out of it, I simply said okay. She said she'd drive.
When we arrived there were several cars there. I assumed it was for a funeral or grave side service. Then, I realized that all the people were by Evie's grave. All the "people" were the kids from my reading circle, their brothers and sisters, and some of their parents.
It seems they were "sad" about Evie and "sad" for me. They missed me at the reading circle. They felt bad, and wanted to "do something" and to "help me" be happy again. According to my friend, two weeks ago they started planning a surprise. My friend talked to their parents, and last weeks session involved the preparation for yesterday's surprise.
As only children can do, with an honest and open compassion, each child proceeded to read a note or thought they had written, or share a drawing they had made. They stepped out one by one, said their piece, walked up to me and handed me their paper and a box of sparklers. My friend had brought a basket for me to put everything in. Some giggled, some were shy, some hugged me, while others approached only by the courage of holding their parent's hand. When the last one had shared their "gifts", my friend said that the kids wanted to make sure that I never ran out of "heart sparklers", warm memories or smiles. Then they proceeded to light a sparkler.
There we were, 20 or 30 people, standing around the grave, burning sparklers in hand, in broad daylight, singing America the Beautiful (the only song all the kids knew). I cried like a baby. Some of them cried too.
So many times we hear bad news or wonder about kids these days. The media is focused on the drugs, the sex, the violence, or seeming lack of direction. Yet here, in a tiny community, a bunch of young children knew someone was hurting. They cared enough to give their time and energy to reach out and help. Little kids who giggle when your tongue gets twisted reading funny stories, or look at you in awe when a hero bigger than life comes in and saves the day. Children who contemplate the seriousness of peanut butter on the wrong bread, or wonder why the sky is blue. Children who struggle to tie their shoes or read aloud.
No, with kids like this, the future is bright and filled with possibilities. It will be filled with love and compassion and heart sparklers. Thanks for letting me ramble and share. Thank each and everyone of you for your continued support. --
The soul would have no rainbow, if the eyes had no tears.
Jeremy is P.D.'s stepson and Priscilla is P.D.'s step daughter-in-law
My name's Priscilla Lamberth. P.D.. was my mom-in-law. Technically some folks would say step mom-in-law but there was no step 'bout it if ya get my drift.
We got married in august 2000. Jeremy's mom died the year before. P.D. died almost a year later.
P.D. visited evie's memorial page all the time. fact is, Jeremy and me copied the stuff off the tribute page and from the guest book and put it in a special leather bound binder.
We're gonna do the same thing with P.D.'s tribute page and guest book.
See, we think our kids need to know somethin' 'bout their grandmothers. We can show 'em pictures and tell 'em stories. We can share memories and all, but we want 'em to have more than just our stuff ya know? We'd like 'em to see how other folks felt 'bout 'em and how they touched people's lives. Thanks to their virtual family, we got a lot of nice memories to share. Thank you for the tributes and signin' the guest book. P.D. was right when she said you're the best!
Anyways, Jeremy and me aren't the best at expressin' ourselves, so here's a poem that says some of what's inside.
Your fingerprints are on our hearts.
You touched us.
You taught us.
You taught us about love.
You taught us about caring.
You taught us about courage.
You taught us about faith.
You taught us about happiness.
You taught us about sorrow.
You brought us closer to our loved ones.
You brought us closer to ourselves.
In the time we cared for you,
my how life changed.
Never to be the same again.
Because of you
We know we will somehow be stronger.
Because of you
We know we will be more prepared for life.
All this from your fingerprints
that touched our hearts.
Because of this
you will live forever in our souls -
never to be forgotten.
We will always love you.
© 2001 -Tom Krause
P.D., you were the wind beneath our wings. we know without your love and support we might not have wound up together. you saw the love and helped it along. you taught us how to fly and set us free. we love you and you'll always be part of us. take care of mom okay? slow dance one for us.
Jeremy and Priscilla Lamberth
As one of P.D.'s online emailers, I'd like this included in the public space dedicated to the remarkable P.D. From reading other tributes from the memorial site, I am beginning to get the picture that she was a force of nature. And how blessed we all were to touch her life.
Click here to read a 2 page tribute
Some of the text is hard to read because -
"P.D. was working on regaining her language skills through writing email, and she used the simplest spelling for words."
In 1983 I was P.D.'s boss.
We both worked for a medium sized firm. I met Evie through work related social gatherings. We didn't interact outside of work or work related gatherings.
In 1984 my wife and son had a car accident.
My son suffered severe brain trauma and wasn't expected to "make it through the night." My wife suffered neck and spinal cord injuries and needed to be transferred to a special trauma center. Her prognosis was uncertain. The doctor didn't know if she'd survive the trip or the surgery she needed to stay alive. I was torn in half. Evie drove me to the trauma center.
P.D. stayed with my son. He passed away early the next morning. He never woke up. The nurse told me P.D. stayed with him throughout the night, holding his hand, talking to him, singing to him. She didn't leave his side.
P.D. later joined Evie and I at the trauma center offering her quiet support.
My wife survived. She is a paraplegic. She spent 8 weeks in the hospital and another 15 months in a convalescent center recovering. P.D. and Evie visited her every day in the hospital. Evie always brought food for me to take home.
When something like this happens, people are there at the beginning, then move on after the danger is past. P.D. and Evie were there the entire time. They visited her twice a week. Evie, the social butterfly regaled her with stories and gossip. P.D. stayed in the background as was her custom.
P.D. observed my wife's discomfort when it came to her weekly bath and hair washing. P.D. learned how to provide the service required. Every Saturday, she bathed my wife and washed her hair. Every Saturday for over a year P.D. gave my wife her dignity back by doing this simple act.
When it all began, they didn't know me. They didn't know my wife. We were employer and employee. I asked P.D. why she did it. She said why not?
We became good friends. I watched them as the years went by. I watched Evie flit about. Evie was charming and full of life. She loved people. P.D. was quiet and reserved, always staying in the background, yet she was always there.
If someone was sick or needed help, P.D. was there. If someone needed a friend to talk to, P.D. listened. She didn't like the lime light. Accolades and gratitude were shrugged off. She wasn't flashy. She did because she could. P.D. was quiet, gentle, and sincere. Her presence gave you strength.
Now, I do because I can. If someone says why, I say why not? I hope I do it with as much grace and dignity and love as she did.
P.D. and The Little Tree
I first got to know P.D. because of her comments about stories and poems I had written. She would always give encouragement and gently provide insight about what worked and what didn't. Later, when Evie died, I was impressed by P.D.'s ability to remain kind and to think of others when her own heart was broken. I couldn't believe it when I learned that her wonderful spirit was again being challenged, that she had a brain tumor and had to undergo surgery that would rob her of much of her ability to communicate. As anyone who corresponded with P.D. after her surgery can testify, P.D. remained herself, retaining her intelligence and humor and kindness, her concern for others, even while struggling to walk and talk and write. When circumstances continued to deal her blows, and depression threatened to sap her spirit, P.D. would, with the help of her friends and support people, pull herself up and continue to plan. She was a woman with a mission, no, missions, and none was more important than letting her and Evie's son Jeremy know how loved he was.
P.D. had a friend named Carrie, a little girl who had had brain surgery and who faced many of the challenges P.D. was dealing with. P.D. wrote a story and asked me to edit it. Then she and her mother made the story into a book and decorated it with pictures cut from magazines. Carrie passed away before P.D. P.D. said that Carrie was with Evie. I like to think that now all three of them are together. This from an old agnostic like me. Such was the power of P.D. *S*
Anyway, I would like to share P.D.'s story. And it IS P.D.'s story, not mine. See, P.D.? I finally got the last word on this!
Judith K. Parker aka Wishes
The Little Tree
Once upon a time, there was an orchard. This orchard had lots of big trees that gave lots of fruit. Folks came from all around to get fruit. Mothers got fruit. Daddies got fruit. Little children got fruit.
All the trees in the orchard were big and strong except for one little tree. This little tree was in the back of the orchard. It was between the house and the other trees. It didn't get lots of sun or lots of water. The little tree didn't get lots of folks coming around because they couldn't see it hidden behind the other trees.
The little tree was not like the big trees. It was scared and alone. The little tree was kind of like the seasons and kind of like you and me.
One season it got cold and dark outside. That season was winter. There was fog, and the little tree couldn't see the sun. The fog went away, but the sky stayed gray. All the little tree could see beneath the gray sky were the big trees all around. When everything around was cold and gray, the little tree bent down and felt smaller still.
The cold season was like after BT. We wake up, and it is dark and cold. We are not sure what is in our heads. Sometimes we see nothing but fog and can't understand. Sometimes the fog clears, but then everything is gray. We understand, but not like others. Words make no sense, and we feel sad because we feel different. It is hard to stand tall.
Another season came. That season was spring. Sometimes there was sun all day. Sometimes there was wind and rain. The big trees in the orchard stood tall. They started to bloom. The branches were full of white flowers. The flowers smelled good. The little tree started to stand straight. She wanted to bloom, but her branches were not big. They were not big enough or strong enough to hold a lot of white flowers. But the little tree tried very hard, and her little white blooms smelled very sweet.
The little tree's bloom was like when we first say a word. It was like when we take a step. It was like when we smile or know what is inside our heads. We are not big and strong. We don't talk and walk like others. But we still have thoughts and words. We stand and bloom and enjoy the sweet smells.
A new season came. This was summer. There was more sun, and the bloom turned to fruit. The big trees had lots of fruit, so much fruit their strong branches bent under it. Their fruit grew big and red. Folks came around and saw the fruit. They picked and tasted it. They said the fruit was very good. The little tree's blooms became fruit, too. But it did not have lots of fruit. Its branches were not strong. It did not see enough sun so its fruit grew slowly. But the little tree had some small, red fruit. It was pretty fruit. The little tree wished that someone would come and see its fruit. It wished that someone would pick its fruit and say that it was good.
The little tree's fruit grew kind of like our thoughts and words and first steps. We try to think and talk and walk. We can't do a lot, but we try. We can be kind of scared because we aren't like others. We aren't sure folks will come around. We don't know if they will want to see us and talk with us and be with us. It makes us mad sometimes and sad sometimes. Most of the time we are scared because we are not like the rest. We are not sure what to do or how to do it.
The summer ended, and fall began. The last of the big, red fruit was being picked from the big trees. Some children walked around the house. They walked through all the big trees. They saw the fine little tree. They saw its fruit, which was close to the little tree, not far out on its branches. The children couldn't reach the fruit on the big trees, but they could reach the fruit on the little tree. They picked some and tasted it. It was sweet and good. They thought it was the best fruit in the orchard because they had taken the time to find it.
The little tree's fruit was kind of like us when we walk and talk and laugh and be. We are not big or strong. We don't have lots of words or run or ride bikes. But we have some words, and we laugh, and we offer lots to the ones who see us. We have hearts, and we care.
It may take a long time for folks to see us. It may take a long time for folks to understand us. We may be hard to find, but nothing is better. Not even the big trees have better fruit, because our fruit is made of the same love and care and blessings as theirs. Folks who want good fruit take time to look and see and find.
Folks who want good friends take time to look and see and know what is inside. They don't worry about how big or strong we are or how we talk. They see us and know that nobody is better.
Carrie, friends like that don't worry about you being like others. They don't care if you don't walk or talk well or don't ride a bike or do some other things. They don't care about what you don't do.
They care about you. They know that you are a blessing just like the little tree's sweet, red fruit. Like the tree's fruit, you are sweeter and better because you work and love and care. Like the little tree, you'll keep growing and getting stronger through every season.
You know, I couldn't write
a proper tribute to P.D. until now. Because I could not smile when
I thought about her. P.D., I am glad that you shared this particular
time and space with us. Even though I am someone who already values
each and every day, you made me appreciate it just that much more!
Just months from now, when I am laying in my driveway as the first
fluffy flakes of winter fall from the sky, I will think of you as
I wave my arms and swing my legs. I will smile because it happened.
A Note and a Poem
P.D. challenged me to see God and my church beliefs differently. She said you can't take the words literally. They were written by people with an agenda. There's wisdom and love there but much of what's said should be taken with a grain of salt. She frustrated me. I'm an old broad who spent most of her life traveling around the world with her husband. We were missionaries. She made me angry. She made me think. She made me see things in new ways. She taught this old dog new tricks. I'll miss her dearly for I've never had such a loving, caring adversary. She'll be part of me for the rest of my life. I know I'll always ask "why" and "how come" and "what if" and "does it really mean that" in bible class. I'll try hard to make the Pastor work for his sermons. She gave so much more than she got. She was a joy and an angel. A pain and a devil. We sparred and jibed. I'd give anything to do it all again. Bless *YOU* P.D. You lived your life well. You found your peace. Enjoy the next part of the journey and stretch your wings. As surely as the sun rises, my heart knows your an angel watching over us all. Here's a poem that says some of what I feel.
There's a comforting thought at the close
of the day,
Did you know you were brave?
I am glad that I live, that I battle and
P.D., Evie and I go back 15+ years. What a great pair. You'd never know they'd been together for nearly 20 years. The honeymoon just went on and on and on. Sometimes it was downright embarrasing watching the two of them together. I admit to being green with envy.
When Evie died, some of P.D. went with her. The parts she kept here, she shared with everyone she touched. A Brain Tumor robbed her of her independence, her ability to talk, and her ability to walk. She struggled to find words and "think" the way *SHE* wanted to.
There was nothing wrong with her thinking. She cared. She loved. She gave. She shared. She was P.D. Each encounter left you wanting more. More of her time. More of her thoughts. More of her wisdom. More of her humor. I can't tell you how many jibes she put up with regarding her name. Wonder was bad enough, but spend your life named P.D. and you can imagine the times she had. She took it with grace. She was grace.
I think many people don't understand that P.D. has always been that way. Full of love and laughter. She spent most of her life giving herself to others. Volunteerism, donating money, being there for anyone and everyone. Her tumor didn't take that away. It brought it out for all to see. She gave one thousand percent of herself and taught me to always do the best I can. Never compromise on the important things. Love with all your heart. Laugh a lot. Believe in yourself, your family, your friends and humanity. Dance.
Awhile back Sanders and Siller penned a song that to me captured much of what P.D. was about. She was altruistic and loving. I've rearranged the lyrics to end on the right note. P.D. danced. How she danced -
Time is a wheel in constant motion. Always pulling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance Never settle for the path of least resistance Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin' Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin'
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter When you come close to sellin' out reconsider Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance And when you get the choice to sit out or dance I hope you dance' I hope you dance
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance And when you get the choice to sit out or dance I hope you dance' I hope you dance.
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed May you never take one single breath for granted You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger I hope you never lose your sense of Wonder Dance
I'll miss you sweetcakes,
I screwed up.
I straighten out or I do time in Ione. I was assigned to work with a community volunteer on a special project. We worked together for six months. P.D. was my mentor.
P.D. taught me to trust myself. P.D. taught me to believe in myself. You walk your talk. You do the right thing. Not because it's the right thing according to everyone. You do the right thing because it's right for you. You work hard. You care. People matter. You matter. It makes a difference. You make a difference.
"I speak with my mouth. I hear with my ears. I cry with my eyes, but nobody hears." Except P.D.
She didn't lecture. She didn't judge. She listened. She taught by example. You didn't have to be perfect. You just had to try. It's all in how you see things. It's all in how you see yourself.
I'm okay now. I'm always going to be okay. P.D. helped me find the right tools. She saw something in me. She saw me.
I'm a nursing student.
The Director of Nursing posted a notice on the board. Free room, board and transportation if you meet the qualifications to "care for" a patient at home. I applied and was interviewed by the Director and later by P.D.'s family.
A home care worker helped out during the day. Another student and myself took care of P.D. at night and on the weekends.
We were trained to provide home health care assistance. It was awkward and even clumsy at first. I made a lot of mistakes. P.D. didn't chastise or complain. I know she was in pain. I know I inadvertently caused some of it by my awkward attempts at help. She always said thank you. She always acknowledged my efforts. She had a quiet presence and let me know that she believed in me. She trusted me.
"Care for" and "take care of" are wrong words. I learned to "care about" P.D. You know she was in pain. She was physically ill almost daily for several weeks in a row. Physically each day was a challenge to even move. She had memory lapses. Feeding herself, bathing herself, walking, dressing, were "events" in the household requiring great energy.
She did everything she could to make it easier on us. She laughed, she teased, she was patient. She never yelled, not once.
She humbled me. She was an intelligent caring woman. I think some would feel degraded or angry in her circumstance. She may have felt it but she never showed it. Her job was to get through the mundane so she could do the important things like sit outside on the porch and see the world or be with her dogs. The most important thing was to be with her friends by reading and writing email messages and leave her "words" for her son Mr. Lamberth.
P.D. made me laugh. She made me cry inside for the seeming injustice life dealt this woman. She kept getting knocked down and she kept getting back up again and again.
I had financial problems and wasn't sure I could continue going to nursing school. A friend of P.D.'s made sure that dream would come true. He said even if I changed my major, he'd make sure that I could finish school and get a degree.
When P.D. died, I wasn't sure I wanted to finish nursing school. It was painful. I lost a friend. I lost a mentor.
Now after I've cried and can think a little more clearly I know I will complete my studies. I know I will get my degree and license.
P.D. let me see inside the human heart and the human spirit. P.D. showed me what it means to be present and accounted for. She showed me what it means to be.
She told me I had a gift and a compassionate hand. She told me I would make a good nurse. She was right. I will be a good nurse. I will give my best. I will try. P.D. re-enforced my desire to heal and help others and make their burden lighter just as she made my burden lighter by being a friend.
I will finish my schooling. I will care for others. I will do it with honor and grace and dignity. I will remember the lessons learned and I will keep true to P.D.'s example. Do the best you can and know it's enough. Follow your heart and follow your dreams. See the person first.
Her courage changed my world and perspective. She will always be with me reminding me to celebrate each day and see the wonder all around.
The Pastor of her church
I met P.D. shortly after Evie's death. She moved to our community and started attending our Church. I don't know why. P.D. didn't believe in traditional teachings. She had her own belief system and saw God in ways I can't fathom. Her brand of faith won't be found in any religious dogmas.
Many Pastors wouldn't spend a lot of time with someone they knew was unreachable. Or, they might try to turn her around and get her to see things differently.
I admit P.D. and I had our moments.
Why did I make it a point to stay in contact with her? Let me share a memory with you.
In August of last year, I had the privilege of co-joining Jeremy P.D.'s stepson) and Priscilla in marriage. At the rehearsal Jeremy was struggling to keep it together. I know he was thinking of Evie who died the year before. Many of us tried the tested cliché's: your Mom would be proud, she's here with you in spirit, she loved you.
P.D. came into the room and saw Jeremy. She quietly took him by the hand and took him to the back row. She said I know it hurts. I miss her too, then started to sing "Smile though your heart is aching, smile, even though it's breaking..." It's an old song made popular by Nat King Cole. Jeremy started to cry. P.D. held him and kept singing. Her voice resonating softly throughout the Church.
Eventually, Jeremy composed himself and he and P.D. approached the group to finish the rehearsal. Jeremy was embarrassed and flustered. P.D. started to sing "Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry...." Jeremy shot her an evil look and rolled his eyes. Soon we all joined in and laughter echoed throughout the hall.
When Jeremy was growing up, the John Denver song was a big hit. Evie loved the song and was determined Jeremy would learn it. The word over kill comes into play as Jeremy soon likened the song to nails scraping on a chalkboard. Any time you want to get his goat, all you need do is sing the song and he goes into what P.D. called the moan and grown routine with rolling eyes. It diffused the embarrassment and brought everyone back together again, laughing and focused on the moment and the future.
How can you not want to know or understand more about someone like P.D. Someone whose God is made up of little bits of each one of us. Someone who knew there is a time to laugh and a time to cry. She taught me much. I continue to learn more through Jeremy and Priscilla.
We received a special blessing the day P.D. came into our Church. One that I shall cherish and thank God for every day.
P.D. and the kids she read to-
When P.D. lived in Northern California
she was a reading circle volunteer. Each weekend she'd spend Saturday
with the kids. Everyone in the circle took turns reading aloud.
Here are some comments from some of the kids.
P.D. did good voices. I want to grow up and
do voices and make books talk cause it makes them better.
P.D. made you obey the rules. It was okay
to laugh if you messed up as long as everyone else was laughing
and you didn't try to hurt them or anything. You had to be quiet.
You had to try. Missing words was okay and she helped you understand
them on the board.
P.D. gave good hugs and I liked the tootsie
roll pops. The books were good too.
Scary stories weren't so scary after P.D.
explained about make believe. There aren't any monsters under the
bed and my brother was pulling my leg when he said there were monsters
in the closet cause P.D. said so.
I like Dr. Seuss and I liked P.D. twisting
her tongue and face all around reading his stories. She's funny.
I like horses. P.D. likes horses. One time
we read a book about horses together and she showed me how to find
more. Books not horses. You have to go to a ranch to find horses.
Reading's fun and the library's a good place
to find good books.
If you do your part good and everybody reads
good and we talk about what we read we get tootsie roll pops and
stars. If you get a lot of stars you get to go to a movie. P.D.
knows a lot about movies. She never tells you what's going to happen
like Carla and she always lets you sit on her lap if you can't see.
P.D. said life is like a book. You never
know what's going to happen. You get to decide what you'll do. I'm
going to write books and then read them to everyone. That way I
can tell them what to do and what's going to happen. I think it's
good for kids to be told what to do.
Reading's not as much fun as computer games
and stuff. It's okay. At least you don't have to be outside when
P.D. said if you read a book each week you're
head will fill up with knowledge. She didn't say what happens when
it gets full. I think it's better to read a book once a month so
you don't fill up too fast.
From a co-worker
I'm the administrative assistant at the company P.D. worked for. Our company is big on community service and getting involved. We support our local public education tv channel by manning the phones during pledge week. We support March of Dime walk-a-thons, Breast Cancer walk-a-thons, AIDS walk-a-thons, Christmas in April, food drives, clothing drives, Salvation Army, the Hug a Bear program (donate a teddy bear for police officers to give children at the scene), Hospice and Shelters for battered Wives and children.
Our firm is a small consulting firm and our employees are on the road all the time. We selected the organizations we'd support because you could support them from just about anywhere.
P.D. participated in every single fund raiser. She manned the phone banks, hauled trash, delivered food, walked 100s of miles. She was always there and could always be counted. She chaired many of the drives. Evie was by her side. P.D. continued to give herself, her time and her money after Evie died.
The thing I remember most was how she approached it. When you do a walk-a-thon you get sponsors. The sponsors pledge xx dollars to the walk. Some pledge by the number of miles you walk, others give flat sums of money. The money is turned into the charity and the walker gets a t-shirt commemorating the event.
P.D. didn't ask for cents or dollars per mile. P.D. didn't ask for large amounts of money. She would walk up to a co-worker and say have you got a dollar? Many people cringed when approached for donations. They felt like they were on the spot or needed to give 5, 10, 15 dollars or pledge per mile. P.D. made it simple and easy. She never asked for more than $1.00. Everyone had a dollar they could spare, it was loose change.
P.D. would spend her lunch hour and breaks canvassing our firm and other employers in our building. Two years running she raised the highest dollar amount for a single contributor - over $300.00 for *each* walk. She did it by collecting one dollar at a time, meeting one person at a time.
I'll never forget that. I'll never forget her. The sweat on her brow, the smile on her face, the we can do it and make a difference attitude. She sang when she walked and she always had a kind word for everyone she met. Few people worked with such joy and pleasure. She was a treasure and an inspiration.
I was P.D.'s speech language pathologist
after her surgery. Learning to speak again is a repetitive process requiring concentration and focus. Many patients get frustrated or angry. Some will give up or do the therapy half-heartedly. I've had some throw things across the room or cuss up a blue streak.
P.D. had an amazing calm about her. She came into each session with a can do attitude. She wanted to learn. Each session was important. There were times when she'd try to form sounds or words and they wouldn't come. Other patients would stop or give up. P.D. would look away, take a breath, turn back and try again and again and again.
I realized after several sessions that she'd always look at the same focal point. It was a rubber plant. I asked her why. She said because ants *can* move rubber tree plants. I didn't think I understood her properly so I had her write it down.
There's an old song called High Hopes. I'd never heard it before but part of the lyrics are: Just what makes that little old ant think he'll move that rubber tree plant, anyone knows an ant, can't move a rubber tree plant. But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes, he's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes. So any time your gettin' low 'Stead of lettin' go just remember that ant. Oops, there goes another Rubber tree plant.
That in a nutshell was P.D. Never give up. Nothing is impossible if you have faith and believe in yourself. She knew she'd never reclaim the ability to speak, read and write again as she did prior to her surgery, but she had high hopes that never faltered. As for me, I put a rubber tree plant in my living room.
Another student who took care of P.D.
i was p.d.'s quote master. p.d. wanted 'special words' attached at the end of the messages she wrote. we made it a game. when she'd go in for therapy, or was doing her exercises, i'd sneak in and change the signature file putting in a new quote. she never knew which one would pop up at the end of the messages she sent out. the people she wrote complimented her on the quotes and she made sure they knew i was the culprit.
she loved it. i loved her. she was more than a boss or someone that needed help. she was fun loving and full of life. she told some of the worse jokes. constantly teasing she made the place electric. p.d. had a way of making you feel comfortable and good about yourself.
i'm not a writer. i'm using some of the quotes to share my feelings. how i saw her:
"Courage is sometimes frail
as hope is frail:
"Happiness is not the absence
"If I can endure for this
minute whatever is happening to me No matter how heavy my heart
is or how dark the moment might be... If I can but keep on believing
what I know in my heart to be true, That darkness will fade with
morning and that this will pass away, too... Then nothing can ever
disturb me or fill me with uncertain fear, For as sure as night
brings dawning, my morning is bound to appear..."
how she saw me
"Friends are angels who lift
us to our feet
"We ourselves feel that what
we are doing
what i learned
"This is our purpose:
"Happiness cannot be traveled
"Kindness in words creates
what i'll always have
"What we have once enjoyed
thank you for being a part of me p.d.
I was P.D.'s lead physical therapist
My brother Greg experienced brain trauma from a motorcycle accident. He's a quadriplegic living in a nursing home. He's 19 years old. He had the accident when he was 16 years old. He's unable to speak. He can read and he can write. He has a computer with a special screen that lets him talk to people. He didn't communicate with many people. He locked himself away in his own world isolating himself from everyone else. He surfs the net. He didn't chat with anyone or have any pen pals. The only email he'd respond to was from my parents and that was hit and miss.
One day a message came in his in-box. He shined it off. Messages started appearing daily. They were simple messages poorly constructed filled with misspelled words and read like one long paragraph. They asked how he was doing. They asked what he was thinking. They asked what places he liked to visit on the net. They contained bad jokes. They told him about me and some of the goofy things I did at work.
Finally, my brother wrote back. His response was filled with expletives. Didn't phase the writer. The messages kept coming. I don't know which message turned the corner. I'm betting on the riveting analysis on Jell-O. All I know is my brother started to write back. They became regular correspondents. My brother started caring more about his personal appearance and hygiene. He acknowledged the staff. Greg joined a science fiction mailing list.
I was P.D.'s lead physical therapist. P.D. always wanted to know how you were doing and what was going on in your life. She found out about my brother and asked if she could write him. I didn't hold out much hope but shared his e-mail address with her. I'll never underestimate the power of a few words said from the heart. No man is an island. P.D. proved that to Greg and helped him start the journey back into society.
P.D.'s Medical Team leader
P.D. spent several weeks in a rehabilitation center after her surgery. She did physical therapy, speech therapy, coping sessions and cognitive therapy. She learned to think again and find herself again.
The therapy was done independently and in groups. It was clear early on that P.D. wasn't going to let a hole in her head deter her from making the most of what she had. She worked hard. She faced every obstacle with determination. Her attitude and approach to life was contagious. The other patients trusted and respected her. They admired her. She set a standard they all tried to reach.
One of the exercises we do involves having a group of six or eight people in a circle. They pass a ball back and forth to each other. Not a literal pass, but a hand off. It helps with dexterity and hand and eye coordination. Normally the people in these circles come, do their work and leave. There is little to no discussion and their goal was to get it done and over with. Not P.D.'s circle. It wasn't uncommon to hear laughter or cheers. The people kept working after time was called.
I knew then P.D. was special. She was there when someone had to go for a test or surgery. She was there when they got bad news. She was there cheering them on when they left the center to start their lives again. She was there offering support to friends, family and other patients when one of them died.
P.D. volunteered to write other Brain Tumor patients and at one time corresponded with 9 different people. She did it because she wanted to, and because she could.
During the months I acted as P.D.'s Medical Team leader, we developed a friendship. Many health professionals will tell you not to get involved, keep your professional distance. It was impossible not to care about this woman. Like a moth to a flame I wanted to be part of P.D.'s world. I liked the world she saw and the way she cared about the people in it. I'm grateful she called me friend. I learned a great deal about life, living, and myself. I know P.D. made an impact on the people she touched. She galvanized the entire medical team and it was a privilege and an honor to share a moment in time with a very special lady.
I knew P.D. through mailing lists. But to be truthful, I didn't know P.D, really, until last autumn. I had had a couple of private conversations with her, enough to recognize a highly intelligent, caring, sensible human being, but we never really built up a relationship of any kind. When I heard she'd had surgery which left her with serious brain trauma, and that the therapists thought it would be helpful for her to correspond with people by email in order to help her recover, I thought it would be a small thing I could do for a nice person. I started writing once a week, sometimes more often.
Somewhere along the line, we became friends. Somewhere along the line, we learned that she was not going to recover, and that in fact her condition was terminal. Kind of changed the terms of reference for the correspondence, y'know? But I've never been sorry to have gotten involved. I shall always be thankful for her friendship and the joy she brought me.
P.D's brain trauma made it very difficult for her to communicate, but there was nothing wrong with her intelligence, or her wit. Or with her strength, her courage and her grace. I learned hell of a lot from P.D, though it was not her job to be my teacher.
Someone else spoke about what they learned from P.D, from the simplicity and clarity and honesty of her language. After the brain trauma, what she said was by necessity distilled to essentials. And that is how I see P.D: as someone whose character was distilled to the true essentials of life. To loving, and being.
Sometimes P.D couldn't understand why people wanted to write to her, because she felt that she wasn't able to give back in quality what she received from others, and that was important to her. She was wrong. She was a wonderful friend. When she couldn't write I missed her messages very much indeed. I will miss them forever, now, but I also know that her messages will always be with me.
She wrote to some of us once and asked us why we thought her a
hero, because she really couldn't understand that either. This was
part of what I said in reply:
I think you are a hero because just about every time something knocks you down, you get up again and look for the good in what has happened. I know you're not perfect, I know you get lonely and depressed and angry and all of the rest. You have been knocked down a hell of a lot of times. But in the end you never seem to let it stop you - you just keep on fighting. I don't think you realize how few people fight as hard as you have, and with such love and sweetness. In your place, I think I would be so angry at life that I would have given up, and I would have been really bitchy in the process. And yes, I know you get stubborn and cranky and all the rest, but eventually the part that tries and loves comes to the surface again.
Being a hero isn't going out and doing some kind of quest or something. It's getting knocked down by the hard blows life strikes and getting up again anyway. It's finding the best in your life and taking that as your standard. It's what you do every day. It doesn't matter if you do it every day, forever. You could stop tomorrow and you'd still be a hero for doing it as well as you have.
P.D. was a hero in every sense of the word. Her life was based on love, and what more can you ask of anyone? I hope I can do half as well as she did. I am honoured to have her as a friend.
From her friend Becky Calvert
Once again the online world, as I know it, has been shaken and robbed of another great soul and spirit. PD fought so hard this last year to hold onto life after having lost her long-term soulmate just 2 years and a handful of days before her own death. PD taught me so much over the last couple of years about strength. Watching her marshal herself time after time and rise above her misfortunes taught me how to find a small bit of this strength within myself. PD was always the one to remember what I was going through with my own health issues, and even in her roughest times never missed an opportunity to inquire about me, even when it was I who was trying to check on her state of health. PD, who never believed she was special and could not understand why people cared about her enough to take time to write to her, was an inspiration to me. The world will be a much emptier place without her and the next generation will have missed a chance to meet another of the few great role-models of our time. God bless you PD and say hi to Evie for me.
I love ya buddy.............
Hello PD, Hello